Movie studio


Movie studio

A movie studio (aka film studio or simply studio) is a term used to describe a major entertainment company or production company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to film movies. The majority of entertainment companies and production companies have never owned their own studios, but have rented space from other companies.

There are also independently owned studio facilities, who have never produced a motion picture of their own due to the fact that they are not entertainment companies or production companies; they are companies who sell only studio space.

Contents

Beginnings

In 1893, Thomas Edison built the first movie studio in the United States when he constructed the Black Maria, a tarpaper-covered structure near his laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey, and asked circus, vaudeville, and dramatic actors to perform for the camera. He distributed these movies at vaudeville theaters, penny arcades, wax museums, and fairgrounds. Other studio operations followed in New Jersey, New York City, and Chicago.

In the early 1900s, companies started moving to Los Angeles, California. Although electric lights were by then widely available, none were yet powerful enough to adequately expose film; the best source of illumination for motion picture production was natural sunlight. Some movies were shot on the roofs of buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. Early movie producers also relocated to Southern California to escape Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company, which controlled almost all the patents relevant to movie production at the time.

The first movie studio in the Hollywood area was Nestor Studios, opened in 1911 by Al Christie for David Horsley. In the same year, another 15 independents settled in Hollywood. Other production companies eventually settled in the Los Angeles area in places such as Culver City, Burbank, and what would soon become known as Studio City in the San Fernando Valley.

The "majors"

The Big 5
By the mid-1920s, the evolution of a handful of American production companies into wealthy motion picture industry conglomerates that owned their own studios, distribution divisions, and theaters, and contracted with performers and other filmmaking personnel, led to the sometimes confusing equation of "studio" with "production company" in industry slang. Five large companies, 20th Century Fox, RKO Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer came to be known as the "Big Five," the "majors," or "the Studios" in trade publications such as Variety, and their management structures and practices collectively came to be known as the "studio system."

The Little 3
Although they owned few or no theaters to guarantee sales of their films, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and United Artists also fell under these rubrics, making a total of eight generally recognized "major studios". United Artists, although its controlling partners owned not one but two production studios during the Golden Age, had an often-tenuous hold on the title of "major" and operated mainly as a backer and distributor of independently produced films.

The minors

Smaller studios operated simultaneously with "the majors." These included operations such as Republic Pictures, active from 1935, which produced films that occasionally matched the scale and ambition of the larger studio, and Monogram Pictures, which specialized in series and genre releases. Together with smaller outfits such as PRC TKO and Grand National, the minor studios filled the demand for B-movies and are sometimes collectively referred to as Poverty Row.

The independents

The Big Five's ownership of movie theaters was eventually opposed by eight independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, Walt Disney, Hal Roach, and Walter Wanger. In 1948, the federal government won a case against Paramount in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the vertically integrated structure of the movie industry constituted an illegal monopoly. This decision, reached after twelve years of litigation, hastened the end of the studio system and Hollywood's "Golden Age".

Film to television

Halfway through the 1950s, with television proving to be a lucrative enterprise not destined to disappear any time soon -- as many in the film industry had once hoped -- movie studios were increasingly being used to produce programming for the burgeoning medium. Some midsize film companies, such as Republic Pictures, eventually sold their studios to TV production concerns.

Today

With the breakup of domination by "the Studios" and the continued incursion of television into the cinematic audience, the major production companies gradually transformed into management structures that put together artistic teams on a project-by-project basis and distribute the finished products. Their studio spaces or backlots have been in most cases retained and are available for rental.

Notable movie studios

Three Mills Studios (UK)

See also

Video and film

2012 (film) A (film) Actor (film) Agency (film) Alvin and the Chipmunks (film) Bird (film)


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